TechSpot PC Buying Guide - November 2008 update

Julio Franco

Posts: 8,604   +1,483
Staff member
Whether you are a first time builder seeking guidance or a seasoned enthusiast lacking the time it takes to compare the seemingly endless pit of hardware available, we've got you covered. Our buying guides provide an in-depth list of today's best hardware, ranging between three unique and yet typical budgets.

Entry Level Box ( < $900 )
As the title implies, this is not a top-grade machine, however, it's the best and most balanced system $800 can buy you in our opinion. This box should prove to be an excellent companion for running general applications and a sufficient solution for even the newest games on the market, albeit with a bit of its eye-candy tuned down.

Mid-range Enthusiast's PC ( < $1,800 )
Our Enthusiast's PC incorporates a flavorful blend of both the Budget Box and Luxury System, making this the most harmonious of builds. The intended total cost for our mid-range is usually well below the $2,000 mark, thus remaining within the grasp of the average computer enthusiast. Essentially, this is a fully-loaded PC minus some of the trinkets and bobbles, offering the confidence that it will plow down nearly anything shoved in its path.

High-end Luxury System
Here we have a screaming edge system lacking any virtual price cap. Every component in the Luxury System guide was thoughtfully scrutinized in order to offer you the most for your greenback. If the additional dough didn't bring about a justifiable performance leap, it didn't make the cut. Let's face it, almost nobody wants to choke up 150% more money to see a 3% increase in umph.

Read the complete guide:

Please leave your feedback here. Thanks!


Posts: 13,810   +3
Actually I like these posts on the board, it's definitely a good reference to quote others, when required.
I especially like this type of post though, because it's simple, complete computer packages, for either "Entry; Middle or High Range"

I have one query though. Are all parts Vista compatible only (I only saw one mention of the Monitor being ready for Vista) or Vista and Xp compatible? (Motherboard hardware drivers; so forth)
Or is it assumed that the new user will just purchase Vista with these computers?

I would prefer if Vista compatibility (or Xp or both) was listed with the write up. :)

Julio Franco

Posts: 8,604   +1,483
Staff member
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #3
We don't check for OS compatibility on every item but I think it's quite safe to assume everything will work just fine with XP or Vista, even 64-bit should be alright.


Posts: 5,403   +40
Nice update guys, but just FYI, the Seagate 1.5TB drive you've recommended for the High-End system has randomly-occuring freezing problems in specific batches that were also confirmed by Seagate to exist. The Samsung SpinPoint F1 would be a more reliable recommendation IMO. Or you could add a note specifying this to the current recommendation.


Posts: 13,810   +3
Oh found it:

Official statement:
Seagate is investigating an issue where a small number of Barracuda 7200.11 (1.5TB SATA) hard drives randomly pause or hang for up to several seconds during certain write operations. This does not result in data loss nor does it impact the reliability of the drive but is an inconvenience to the user that we are working to resolve with an upgradeable firmware.

We are therefore asking customers if they feel they are experiencing this issue to give our technical support department a call with any questions.

Affected part number: 9JU138-300, 336 with firmware revisions SD15, SD17, or SD18.

Support contact information:

Technical Support in the USA: 1.800.SEAGATE (1.800.732.4283)
Technical Support in Canada: 1.405.324.4700

Other regions please go to our support web page:


Posts: 202   +0
While I do think this is a very good guide, I think you are underestimating the "entry level box",
with my old 8800GTS 320 (e6600+2gb 800mhz ocz) I never once had to tune down eye-candy, and both the 9800 and 4830 are better performers, while I didn't run my games with massive AA, it was always smooth in the 2/4XAA area (1280x1024 + 8xAF).

I think less money should be spent on the RAM/CPU and more should be spent on the video card, the cpu/ram combo are much faster than the gpu.

Besides, at 150 dollars for the gpu, you can already get the hd4850 (before rebate)-
even if it was $170 like when I bought it, those 20$ are a huge jump from the 9800/4830.

Just my 2 cents.
Keep up the great work :)